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SN2K: Tracking the ‘Bigfoot Erotica’ Literary Trend, and More

Bigfoot Area/Image © Shutterstock

Editor's Note:

Also in your Signature Need-to-Know: Authors comment on toxic masculinity in gaming culture, and the internet confirms the origin of Wednesday Addams’ name.

Over the weekend, we entered the “Bigfoot Erotica” phase of the decline of American political standards, with aspiring Virginia representative Denver Riggleman becoming associated (perhaps permanently) with racy sasquatch imagery made public by his Democratic opponent, Leslie Cockburn. (Riggleman followed up to insist that his creative project isn’t erotica at all, clarifying that his book is “a sort of joke anthropological study on Bigfoot believers.”) In the days since, Rolling Stone confirmed that bigfoot erotica “is absolutely a thing,” and The Los Angeles Times even predicts a publishing boom capitalizing on the sensation. The Verge, however, scolds us for giving Bigfoot fifteen minutes of NSFW fame, because focusing on Riggleman’s outre sexual interests instead of his willingness to campaign alongside white supremacists only serves to make the latter seem less objectionable. Will any other cryptids get dragged into the spotlight as the midterm race heats up? The Jersey Devil was unable to be reached for comment.

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Be careful when purging old books: A collection found in a dumpster in 2014 were eventually confirmed to be the personal property of Thomas Jefferson, and Max Brown, the man who found them, has spent the intervening years trying to figure out how they ended up there in the first place — eventually managing “to map the books’ ownership from Jefferson’s 1818 purchase almost to the present day.” While many of the volumes were sold off before he understood their true historical value, he was able to reunite his remaining tomes with descendants of the last known owners.

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Those who hunt for literary treasure at secondhand stores will relate to this Reddit user’s emotional journey: having found what appeared to be a 1904 copy of Sherlock Holmes Vol. 1 signed by A. Conan Doyle himself, he turned to the internet hoping to authenticate the purchase. Long story short, it’s the kind of facsimile signature that was commonly printed in these editions by the publisher, and worth $20-$30 at most, but the post also serves as a springboard into a wider conversation about autograph authenticity. The next time you get excited about a rare find, remember this person’s response: “I used to write fake signatures in my books. I’m not sure why I did it, but I would write some cryptic message then sign it as if it were the author.”

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Similarly lost and found: the remains of an ancient public library built in 2nd century Germany, which were technically unearthed last year, but it took the archeologists some time to figure out exactly what the structure’s purpose was. “It took us some time to match up the parallels – we could see the niches were too small to bear statues inside,” one comments to The Guardian. “But what they are are kind of cupboards for the scrolls.” They estimate that in its heyday, the library may have housed up to 20,000 scrolls. Travelers take note: in due time, the discovery will be preserved and put on display at the church where this excavation took place.

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Giving a lecture on the tradition of literary adaptations this summer, Arundhati Roy offered some remarkable insights into the questions that plague authors from colonized countries who choose to write in English. LitHub has presented her observations in their entirety, to be cited and considered in any conversation about national identity – especially in India, where as Roy points out, approximately 780 languages are spoken, only a small fraction of which are formally recognized by the government “India as a country, a nation-state, was a British idea,” she writes. “So, the idea of English is as good or as bad as the idea of India itself.”

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A translator is far from a passive vehicle for another author’s words, and changes and errors in a translation can be hard to track: They become literature in their own right. Consider the plight of Ismene, a character in Antigone who seems to have lost one of her lines in many editions of the play. Why have some translations handed the line to Antigone herself – and could this switch have anything to do with discomfort over Ismene’s sexual history, and a desire to “purify” the text? Writing for Electric Literature, Fortunato Salazar combs through the pre-Sophocles mythology of these characters searching for possible motives for this bizarrely unnecessary alteration, showing that it’s never too late to the bring the truth to light.

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Numerous writers and thinkers chimed in on this tremendous roundup of quotes explaining just how the world of gaming became a cesspool of toxic masculinity, and what could (or should) be done about it, which has been going round and round the internet since it was first posted by Polygon last week. Crossing Fandoms author Paul Booth has this to offer: “When one is used to being catered to, and then suddenly other people are being catered to as well, it feels like you’ve lost something, even though you actually haven’t.” While there’s no one cause anyone can point to, and no single solution, it’s illuminating to have all these interrelated problems vivisected so skillfully by those who’ve been studying the issue for many years.

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Between dealing with the cult of personality among his other readers, and considering the allegations sexism and sexual misconduct that have proliferated after his death, being a David Foster Wallace fan isn’t as easy as it used to be.  Writing for The Outline, Daniel Kolitz attends the fifth annual DFW Conference to see exactly who’s there, and exactly how these issues are being addressed (if at all) among the late author’s fans. What he finds may surprise you: a sincere interest in discussing the problems associated with Wallace’s life and literary canon, even if it means putting oneself under the microscope. Kolitz sums up readers’ predicament thusly: “What do you say when you’re told, over and over, that the work you love is tainted, and that loving it taints you too?”

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Some characters are so deeply ingrained in our culture, we barely think of them as having an origin. Take Wednesday Addams for example: as mainstays in Charles Addams’ comics, she and her altogether ooky family weren’t given names until a TV series was in the works, and until now, it’s never been confirmed exactly how or why the family’s eldest daughter came to be called “Wednesday.” A little web sleuthing seems to have confirmed the answer: a comment posted on a recent New Yorker story about the Addams Family offers a firsthand account of the character’s origin, which appears to substantiate a claim about the name which was published in 2010. It apparently stems back to the old nursery rhyme claiming that “Wednesday’s child is full of woe.” As a bonus, we learn that Gomez and Morticia almost ended up with “Irving” instead of Pugsley – but the reason for that one still remains a mystery.

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Playing the notorious white supremacist David Duke in Spike Lee’s new film “The BlackkKlansman” did not come easily to Topher Grace. Disturbed by the demands of his role, the actor says he spent his free time re-editing Peter Jackson’s trilogy of The Hobbit adaptations into one standalone two-hour film. “It’s not that I ever want to edit professionally,” he explained. “It’s like doing woodwork in my garage.” Sadly, the odds of getting to screen Grace’s version of the Tolkien tale aren’t good, unless Jackson himself grants approval (previously the actor had also worked on re-editing the “Star Wars” films, and aside from a few private screenings for friends, his version has yet to see the light of day). Enjoy the trailer for Lee’s film below!